The ocean can either be alluring for Hawaii vacationers or it can be intimidating. Believe me, we get this. We know plenty of people that either can’t swim or are terrified of the ocean and what they can’t see beneath them, so it’s nothing new to us when we book vacations to Hawaii for folks like this. But what I don’t understand is why someone would cut their Hawaii experiences short by allowing the intimidation of the ocean control their vacation. Chances are, the group you are traveling with is going to encourage you to join them in some sort of water activity, so why not broaden your horizons and give it a try? Overcoming your fears, whether it’s the ocean, swimming, sharks, boats, or what have you, is the only way to maximize your vacation in Hawaii.

We’re going to give those who grapple with these fears some pointers for vacationing in the islands. While we still think it’s important to conquer fears, we also know that the constant bombardment of “just do it” from friends and family can get annoying. So we’ve thought up a list of things you can do to ease into the beach vacationing style, to get those nagging adventurists off your back (and to experience something new and exciting for yourself too!) Our first tip we like to call “going along for the ride.”

Just because you’re not interested in snorkeling, shark diving, or dolphin swimming, doesn’t mean the boat ride won’t be a heck of a lot of fun. Consider jumping aboard a boating activity purely for the spectator aspect of it. You’ll receive all the amenities that come with the tour; you just won’t have to partake in the water activities. Instead, you can suntan on the decks, take photos of your friends, or mingle with the other passengers. Getting on a boat while in Hawaii is one of the best ways to explore the coastline and see it from a unique perspective. Unless you get a great view from the plane, you won’t have an opportunity like this, so you may as well take your friends up on the offer and take a boat cruise. If you suffer from seasickness, pop a couple Dramamine or Bonine tablets; they seriously work great and eliminate the fear of the dreaded seasickness.

Our next tip is for those who want to get in the water but are timid to swim. We call this tip, “safe swimming.” There is an abundance of safe swimming areas in Hawaii where beginners can wade around and feel comfortable, not to mention are great for the whole family or your group of friends. Calm waters at the beach give a sense of relaxation for everyone, so we don’t think people will mind when you make a suggestion to spend a day at one of these temperate beaches. Here’s a quick list of spots on Oahu: Ala Moana beach park, Kahanamoku Lagoon at the west end of Waikiki, Kaimana beach at the east end of Waikiki, Lanikai on the east side, the lagoons at Ko Olina, Mother’s Beach on the north shore, and Chun’s Reef on the north shore.

The next thing we like to recommend is for those who can swim, but are nervous of the ocean’s wildlife. Snorkeling is such a great experience in Hawaii, we really don’t think you should miss out on it. It transports you to another world and is peaceful and relaxing. Some of the best snorkeling can be found right from the beaches, which is why we recommend our next tip, “safe snorkeling”. This is for those of you who are nervous to snorkel off a boat, which can be intimidating due to the ocean depths. We guarantee though, if you strap on a mask and snorkel at the beach, hop in the water, and swim around in the shallows, you’ll see fish. It’s always fun to watch the first timer exclaim, “there’s fish down here!” in three feet of water off the sandy shores. It satisfies the desire to see tropical fish, the underwater world, and swimming, all in one easy beach day.

Our final tip for maximizing the ocean while in Hawaii is planning a ride on one of Waikiki’s famous outrigger canoes. The Beach Boys will take anywhere from 2-6 people at a time on their traditional vessel, and all you have to do is sit there and enjoy the ride. The experienced captain will steer and man the canoe the whole time you’re on it, catching waves, paddling through surf, and navigating atop the clear waters, without you even having to lift a finger. You probably wouldn’t even have to get wet if you didn’t want to! (Well, maybe a little splashed). Outrigger canoe rides are a great water activity for those feeling nervous or anxious about being in the ocean. And with your hands free, you can take photos of all the action and enjoy being a passenger on this thrilling experience.

So leave your inhibitions behind, it’s time to seize the day! Make Hawaii the destination where you conquer your fears, step outside your comfort zones, and allow yourself the fun of ocean activities that you never thought possible (and all those other clichés). There are plenty of ways to work around minor inconveniences (such as sea sickness or not knowing how to swim), so don’t let these worries rules your vacation. You’re in Hawaii, so you might as well embrace the beach lifestyle and the ocean-loving culture. You may never truly experience Hawaii’s offerings if you don’t experience the water. And don’t worry about taking the plunge; water temperatures in Hawaii are in the 70’s year-round!


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